Ignoring the pain from a sprained left ankle and jammed right wrist, Jimmy Brown had another brilliant day in goal yesterday, stopping a penalty kick and two Dallas shootout attempts as the Washington Diplomats defeated the dreadfully unimaginative Dallas Tornado, 1-0, in RFK Stadium.
Only 7,515 fans attended the game on a gorgeous afternoon. They spent much of the day booing a Dallas team that mounted almost no attack the entire game and drew the wrath of the Washington general manager, Duncan Hill.
"I hope we never have to play Dallas at home again," Hill said. "They're a disgrace to the NASL. They shouldn't be allowed to exist as a franchise if they're going to play like that. They played the most boring soccer I've ever seen. We've all got a battle in the NASL trying to make the game attractive and they act this way.
"How can we sell the game here? I'm going to write and ask (Dallas owner) Lamar Hunt how a man of his sports background can field a team like this. I'm disappointed in today's attendance. But 7,500 is too many fans to have to watch them play. I hope we never have to play them here again unless they change their philosophy on how to play the game."
The Dips prolonged the agony. For the second straight game, they failed to convert numerous scoring opportunities in both halves. So, too, in the two overtime periods.
Besides Brown's magnificent goalkeeping in the shootout, the fans had little to cheer. The loudest roar came when it was announced that the Eastern Division-leading Cosmos had lost, 3-2, at home to Chicago.
However, the Dips, now 6-3, could gain only four points (instead of the maximum nine) by winning in the shootout. The Cosmos are 8-2 with 71 points; Washington has 47. The Cosmos play the Diplomats in Washington Saturday night.
The Dips had a chance to win with 13 seconds left in regulation when Washington forward Trevor Hebberd slipped down the end line and fired an ankle-high pass through the goal crease. But his teammates were set up for a cross through the air and were not in position to knock home the score. So the teams went into overtime.
Brown, who missed last week's game with his injured ankle, tripped Wolfgang Rausch to start the shootout and force a penalty kick. Rausch ripped a high shot toward the right corner but a lunging Brown spiked it away with both hands.
"I was going to go right, no matter what," said Brown, whose third shutout of the season lowered his goals-against average to 0.98. "Coach (Ken) Furphy had scouted them and told me they like to go right on their penalty kicks."
David Bradford then gave the Dips a 1-0 lead in the round of five kicks with a high-bouncing ball over Tornado goalie Bill Irwin. Dallas' Milton tied the round, 1-1, by kicking the ball around Brown, who jammed his wrist into the grass trying for the stop.
Washington's Malcolm Waldron was next, and he took four steps before blasting the ball off his right foot past Irwin into the lower right corner of the net. The Dips' 2-1 lead stood up through the final three rounds. Dallas could have tied it but Fleming Lund's shot hit the goalpost.
Brown stopped Njego Pesa's shot by hooking the ball away with his left hand, then tipped aside Teodoro's shot to end the game.
"We lost five of seven shootouts in Detroit last season, so I didn't like the shootout at all then," said Brown, rubbing his swollen wrist and staring down at his tender and heavily wrapped left ankle. "But I guess the shootout wasn't too bad today. Dallas got what they deserved."
Tornado Coach Mike Renshaw blamed injuries for his team's defeat, but the Dips said Dallas deserved to lose just because of the way it plays.
"They're the worst team in the world for passing around the ball knocking the ball back to the goalkeeper," said Diplomat David McGill. "They just won't come out and attack. The fans don't want to see that kind of play. That's going to kill this league. We're the team that should have won anyway. We came out and tried to play soccer."
The Dips outshot Dallas, 34-15, and forced former Diplomat Irwin to make 10 saves.
The Dallas attack relied heavily on defenders sending the ball back to goalie Irwin. He would fool with it a while before returning it to the defense. Then one of the backs would send up a 40-yard pass. The Tornado midfield had no place in the scheme of things. Dallas provided ample evidence of why it has lost seven straight and is last in the Central Division.
Furphy, who scouted Dallas' Friday night loss to Minnesota, figured the Tornado would play for a scoreless tie and try to win in the shootout.
"It's a technical ploy on their part," Furphy said. "I expected it. It's a negative tactic on their part, but perfectly legitimate. I've been worried about this game because they slow the game down to a walking pace."